No. 13 Butler out to contain Marquette’s Howard

NCAA Basketball
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No. 13 Butler will look to snap a three-game losing streak when it hosts Marquette on Friday in Indianapolis.

Since starting 3-0 in the Big East, the skidding Bulldogs (15-4, 3-3) have dropped three straight to Seton Hall, DePaul and Villanova.

In Tuesday’s 76-61 loss to the Wildcats, Kamar Baldwin led the way with 21 points while Bryce Nze added 11 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Bryce Golden also had 11 points.

Shooting continued to be an issue during the three-game losing streak as Butler missed 15 of 20 shots from beyond the 3-point arc against No. 9 Villanova.

“I thought we had great looks all night,” Butler head coach LaVall Jordan said. “We didn’t make as many as we normally make. They made them when it counted.”

In addition, the Bulldogs received some bad news as Christian David suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the loss at Villanova. He will miss the remainder of the season.

Butler ascended to as high as No. 5 nationally but could fall out of the AP Top 25 with a fourth straight loss. The Big East has proven to be one of the country’s top conferences from top to bottom.

When the Bulldogs won 15 of their first 16 games, their defense was as stingy as anyone. But during the last three defeats, they have allowed 76 or more points in each game.

“Was that our best basketball? Probably not, but we’re going to get back to playing our best basketball,” Jordan said.

Marquette, meanwhile, will be searching for its fourth consecutive Big East victory.

The Golden Eagles improved to 14-5 and 4-3 in the conference with an 82-68 win over St. John’s on Tuesday. They also improved to 8-1 when scoring at least 80 points.

Markus Howard poured in 32 points and Sacar Anim equaled his season high with 21 points. Theo John also recorded six blocked shots.

It was the ninth time this season Howard scored at least 30 points.

But the key to this victory and the Golden Eagles’ recent surge has been the improved play of Anim.

“Sacar’s one of the more underrated players in the Big East,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “And if he’s underrated in the Big East, that means he’s underrated nationally. Sacar does whatever we ask him to do and has done whatever we asked him to do to put his team in position to win. I think the world of Sacar.”

Howard has scored 109 points in the last three games — all wins. Howard has shown the ability to score in a variety of ways, especially when the team is desperate for points.

“He’s a natural-born scorer,” Wojciechowski said. “It’s pretty incredible what he’s doing from a scoring standpoint. Sometimes I think it can get lost. You can start to assume or take it for granted. Not us. Not me. You can take for granted what you’re seeing. And what you’re seeing is historical.”

To keep this momentum going and win a fourth in a row will be a daunting challenge at Butler.

“Every game you play in the Big East is just an absolute bloodbath,” Wojciechowski said. “Not only are there not nights off, every night you better be at your best and bring it for 40 minutes.”

–Field Level Media

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